Thursday, 28 January 2010

The Ominous Ghosts of Arlingham

There were many who must have wished that the message imparted by the ghosts of Arlingham in Gloucestershire, England, was less obvious than it was. This village is a beautiful, but a strangely lonely place. It lies at the end of a dead-end road off a dead-end road that leads to nowhere except Arlingham. On three sides it is surrounded by water, for it stands at the head of a five mile long peninsula of land around which the broad River Severn meanders a few miles south of Gloucester.

The apparition took the form of a ghostly funeral cortege, not the most cheerful of omens at the best of times. In the more developed forms of the legend, the cortege formed up at the charming little church, then moved through the village to reach the grounds of Arlingham Manor. It processed up the drive way and halted in front of the front door. At this point the driver of the hearse drew his horses to a halt and turned to gaze with baneful eye upon the house. At which point the entire procession faded gently from view.

Hardly surprisingly this manifestation was taken as an omen of great misfortune. In particular, it was said that it presaged a death in the house. Stories of the ghost coach and its fatal message were many, but the best attested appearance came on 24 May 1757 when several locals saw it make its way through the village. At first all dreaded what would follow, but nothing - apparently - did. And then on 24 May 1758 the heir to the family fell dead of a disease that in short order carried off his father and mother as well. The property passed to some remote cousins who must have been the only ones ever to be grateful to the message brought by the ghost coach of Arlingham. They did not, however, live there. They merely enjoyed the rents and allowed the old house to fall to ruin. Only the dovecote remains.

This is an extract from Haunted Gloucestershire by Rupert Matthews. To learn more and buy a copy at a discount CLICK HERE

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